As 2020 approaches, countries are accelerating their commitments to protect 10% of the ocean by establishing and expanding marine protected areas (MPAs). Since 2014, the Our Ocean Conference (OOC) has become a high-profile platform to announce ocean commitments.

This study and evaluated the impact of these promises by asking: 1) What are the MPA commitments? 2) Who is making them? 3) Have these announcements been followed by action? and 4) Have they contributed significantly to ocean protection?

The results of reviewing 143 MPA announcements made at the four OOCs between 2014 and 2017 show that the numbers and sectors of announcers, as well as the types of actions, increased over time.

The study shows the percentages of completed commitments and actions. Altogether, OOC announcements have promised to protect 3,4% of the ocean and this study shows that, to date, 43% of that promised area has been implemented, with another 57% yet to be implemented.

It is concluded that the MPA commitments by the OOCs have resulted in verifiable and significant progress toward ocean protection, however, even greater impact is possible if the remainder of OOC commitments are completed.

Grorud-Colvert et al. (2019) High-profile international commitments for ocean protection: Empty promises or meaningful progress? Marine Policy 105:52-66.